Century Training 101

Developing Aerobic Fitness:

The goal of this article is to give you some ideas about developing an aerobic base that will allow you to finish your ride feeling fresher and having more fun along the way.

First let’s address some misconceptions about training;

Often riders have the idea that every ride has to hurt in order to do some good, but nothing could be further from the truth. There is such a thing known to coaches and experienced racers as “tweener” rides, or training in “no-man’s land”. This is when riders are consistently riding at a steady hard pace that is not really considered fast, but not slow enough to produce good aerobic development without excessive fatigue. The result is rider finishes feeling very fatigued and sore, but with no real advantage over doing the same hours or ride at a little easier pace.

Practical Application for the Century Rider:

Training should start several months out and be at a very easy pace, imagine riding and being able to sing a song. Consistency is the key, it’s more important to get short training days stacked together than it is to pile a lot of hours in 1 session. Training and adaptation are truly a process of compounding, consistency is more important than duration. An hour and a half of aerobic training 4 to 5 days a week, with a 3-4 hour ride on the weekend will produce more physiological adaptation than a long sufferfest 1 or 2 days a week with long duration of inactivity in between.

The logic is that you don’t need to ride 100 miles to have the capacity to ride 100 miles. If you can ride 60 miles and feel good the next day, you will easily be able to add on the extra 40. At this point it is just a matter of fueling the body for the few extra hours of exercise. Why? Because you have already trained the body how to use energy, how to convert food into fuel, and you have trained yourself how to take in enough nutrition to keep the motor running strong. Adding more hours becomes nothing more than adding an equal amount of nutrition to fuel those extra hours.

If you are not sure how to measure your intensity, you might consider having an anaerobic threshold test done by a coach who can help you determine your intensity/heart rate zones.

Pace Line and Handling Skills:

Developing good handling skills and comfort in a pace line can add to the enjoyment of a century ride as well as improving your overall efficiency during the ride.

Here are some suggested fundamental skills for riding in pace lines.

Riding efficiently during the ride:

Find a group that you are compatible with in fitness and speed. When at the front, ride within yourself so that when you pull off you still have enough energy to stay attached to the group.

Safety in a pace line:

A skill often taught in race clinics is how to place your vision through the group so that you will be aware of changes in speed and group dynamics with more reaction time. Always look as far up the road as you can see, keeping your head up and use your peripheral vision to keep track of the riders near you. This will allow you to react with the group instead of to the group. If you find yourself fixated on the wheel in front of you or on the riders back, use this as a cue to change your gaze. The further you look ahead, the closer you will be able to comfortably ride to the person in front of you. This will allow for a better draft and more speed at less cost.

While riding in a group practice staying engaged with your bike. Work on resisting the urge to put your feet in a neutral (parallel to the ground) position while coasting to scrub speed. Always have one foot up so that your hips and feet are applying force to the pedals and bottom bracket of the bike, and weight on the saddle. This will increase the amount of control you have of your bike and improve your confidence when riding in a pack or pace line.

Lastly, stay relaxed, have fun, and make friends with your pace line partners.